A rainy day & several hours in the car led us to the legendary Strauss Creamery, & that dashing man up top. Along with being incredibly charming & handsome, he & his wife have been raising, loving & milking over 200 cows a day, twice a day, for 34 years. 34 years. I am 33. So. A baby in the world of right livelihood & spiritual practice. And I've so much to learn from folks like these. I have never seen someone having so much fun, so in love with his day-to-day life. He toured our group around with a spring in his step, a giggle on his chest. You should have seen his delight at getting the kids to pop their fingers in the milking machines. So much fun was he having, that he went around the group, 3 or four times so they really got the nature of the sucking action. A man who gets breast feeding!! I mean, he really gets it & is a true admirer of the sport, the miracle of the process. Not to mention he has been midwifing these gracious animals in every possible way. I think when he began talking about the birthing process & asking the kids to demonstrate how they look when taking a dump, a couple of kids peed their pants. And when he began talking about the insemination process! Well, I think one of the moms pooped her pants. I don't mean to be crass. But that was a really, really fun tour. Rain & all. And he does it for free, a commitment to sharing the wonderful world of organic dairy farming. Angels on earth, organic dairy farmers. When flies take over the farm, they bottle feed each & every cow to prevent salmonella. When a cow goes sick, it's all about the homeopathics & natural care. If the lady might be lost, they give her some antibiotics & pop a big X on her ear, never to be milked again. A loss for the farm, a boon for the rest of us. These are the kind I wish to learn from, I wish the children of the world to know & gaze upon. But that's the last thing he wants. After popping some bottles in their hands, he wrestled down some giddy young bulls & got our kids feeding. What else can I say but thank you? For the tour, the things they do that we'll never know about, the heart break of animal husbandry, the magical ivory milk... And for the rest of us, for buying organic dairy, & supporting men & women such as this. We are blessed.
We have been oh, so very sleepy this month. So while our life has not been on hold, nights have been unusually quiet in our owl household. I don't remember the last stretch where I didn't wake up at exactly 2am every single night, only to find D just heading to bed. That has been our rhythm, our sacred adult time. But October just wipes. us. out. We have had Annie's gf Mac & Cheese three times in the last 4 days. With canned tuna & frozen peas. Our biggest boy is making all the breakfasts around here, with the help of some jarred fruit butter.
Lunch is the nearest stack of pomegranates & persimmons. There's been naps, at least for the grown-ups. While we've slept, the sweet peaceful boys have turned into a band from Lord of the Flies. Everything from pencils to flashlights have transformed into weapons of mass destruction & my newly-armed two year-old somehow makes perfect figure-eights with his wrists while his lips pucker in "pshew-tshew! you're dead, i'd killed you!" sounds. I killed you. These words are not only not allowed at my house, they've never even been considered here. Which may sound rigid, but please remember that our community includes former child soldiers & victims of war. So that's just not cool. Nor is the 5 year-old trying to lasso the good pottery off my counter. But I've been so very sleepy.
Well. In the car we've had "The Amazing Development of Men" running & much light has been shed on this whole phenomena. Alison is the Queen of Gender Harmony, according to me. I LOVE Love LOVE her. Like I love her. She is the reason I've made my home feel good to me. That D & I are so happy. That I take care of my needs & my family's needs in spite of myself & my creative longings towards far-flung places. And that I get myself to art classes & retreats. She says the opportunity of the Queen is to keep her tanks filled, to be well & healthy, so that she can give from a full cup without any sense of self-sacrifice. Amen. But all that has to do with me & why I love her. The CD has to do with the men that I love.
For years I heard from the great men in my life about Alison's PAX workshops. Great men, those who are mentors, who've had at least a decade of diverse personal growth work under their belts. They said it made the women in their lives glimmer & shine & finally understand them. That those same women finally knew how to support, encourage & appreciate the men in their lives.
I have to say, I never had any interest, until my girlfriend Kitty began to glimmer & shine. She broke it all down to me, how she had been completely unable to be the business owner, wife & mother she wanted to be. Her tanks were totally empty, & she had no idea. She now knew exactly what tanks everywoman has to fill (patience, graciousness, etc) & which tanks only she had (creativity, magic). And she knew how to fill them, how often to fill them, what wiped her out & how to recover. YES! So I did that workshop (The Queen's Course), & needless to say I love her. Kitty & Alison. And Shadee, the PAX staff-member / make-up artist / my girlfriend who set me up. You would love her to.
So boys are little knights-in-training, apparently. The love to be dangerous, to be brave, to win. And mostly to be honorable & to provide. And honor is won, after much frustration & trial. My peaceful oldest boy doesn't seem to fit into this on the surface, but then I see what he's up to when he makes breakfast, & how devastated he is when he's not seen clearly. That when he walks away from a frustrating experience it's because he needs our support to stick with it & to get that sense of accomplishment on the other side. I see what is at play when these boys are teaching each other & vying for the chance to be first or the most innovative in their problem solving.
And so, when they begin to fight I am not jumping in as quickly. I am watching them from the couch pillows now, curious as can be. Who are these young men in my living room? I don't know. But I am loving getting to know them. We are currently working (from the couch) on a "Gratitude Board" aka Chore Chart, which will include little buckets for them each to toss chore tags into. They will have their basic chores with no reward other than contribution to our family community, but then they will have extra chores they can do. And be acknowledged for, in a family thank-you ritual at the end of the week. They will get to add up their chore points & trade them in for an experience they are wanting, like a project, alone time with me or a drive with Dad. They will have earned this little moment & right now they are so into it! Discussing the possible chores they want, embroidering their initial on their buckets & telling me what kinds of rewards inspire them.
I hope this all goes well! "Enobling, instead of enabling," is a phrase used in the Waldorf community. If it doesn't go over, I'll just go back to sleep & probably they'll transform into something new.
The butter? As many apples & pears as you can get off the tree, grated. Zest of several lemons & their juice + at least 3 inches of fresh ginger zipped across a micro plane. Add 1/2 C sugar or a bit of maple syrup if you like. Simmer for 3 hours on low. Spoon into sterilized jars. Serve on toast.
My brother's here! From across the sea. Gratitude today looks like:
My "new" sister, not really new, but now I can hug her & soak up her zen-bohemian strength. The fact that she can wear a giant turquoise Mexican wool poncho. No need to get to know each other. That's my girl.
A bustling kitchen where the 9 year-old makes Mexican Hot Chocolate with vanilla & cinnamon.
Babies clinging to mommy legs while they cook.
5 year-old pancake flippers.
My kuya (older brother) in his signature malong skirt + tribal tattoos.
Same brother, with his Montessori-mind, busting out globes, jungle guides & grappling techniques with his nephews.
My mom, frying bangus (milkfish), itty-bitty fishies + eggs, perfectly. But not before making apple-pancakes for us to snack on while she busts out the "real" breakfast.
Pops coming in & out from his TV games in the den.
My 1 year-old nephew, who I am in love with, saying "Pasok!" (come in!) every time he hears a knock. Watching him hold out a hand & yell, "Waagg!" (Stop!) to the dog before opening a door & brushing him out, "Balis, balis!" (Go, you may leave!) He repeats everything we say, dances around & smiles wide with the biggest Chinese eyes I have ever, ever seen.
Mom's chili peppers. Pulling tomatoes, scallions, lemon cucumbers + lemons from her garden to eat with the fish & rice.
4 hours in traffic with my brotha Franz, just to get a glimpse of the Mission district, a bit of blues dancing & a plate of papusas.
Babies tackling & jumping into the arms of aunties & uncles they've never seen before. Because love needs no introduction.
All we need now is our bitty brother Jeric to come out to the States, or for all of us to head to the islands for a little more breakfast.
Mentor session with Liz, Kirsten, Bea + Thea
Brittany of Whatever & Stuff having a personal playdate with the dough & apples. 5 kids, this one has, including 20 month-old twins. She always makes it to Squam to make sure she has something to give back.
Somehow Elizabeth has taken my love affair with woods + water & sent it completely over the top by adding an apron party with cameras, cooking, pregnant bellies & over-full mamas. With a brilliant food stylist (with more than a touch of star quality) showing us exactly how she makes her perfect pictures & a brilliant photographer shadowing her every move, asking her just the questions I didn't know to ask. After making us cry with her beautiful story about why she started creating, of course. Because women like to cry together & we also like watching French women talk about food & style while we cook. At least, this group did. My roomie Eileen & I got to whip up these savory tarts & then bring home sweets to our cottage. That's when I realized I was actually at camp. At Camp!!.
Is it Number #30? I don't know. Seems right. Regardless, we've been eating this 5 different ways, so that should make up for the difference. Strawberries, sliced. Pears, shredded. Apples, chopped. Plums, peaches. I'm hoping Percy, our persimmon-stealing squirrel has left us some fruit at home. Today it was nectarines & blueberries. I call it clafouti, but the boys keep reminding me that it's so not. I just keep offering it up, announcing, "Clafouti!" So I can see them clamber to the picnic tables to remind me with much concern that it is "not a clafouti, a clafouti is slippy & soft. It's a Fruit Bake." "Yeah a fruit bake." "It's a fute bake, mom!" I love seeing them correct me in birth order.
Often times they just take over the making of this dish, which has resulted in an occasional sweet & chewy granola bottom & a one-time hard-as-rocks biscuit-style topping. But I like to let them do their thing. It's a great kid recipe.
So our Clafouti/Fruit Bake is simply a buttered dish with 2 cups of fruit on the bottom, drizzled with maple syrup & cinnamon. It's topped with 1 cup of pancake batter (Pamela's makes really amazing gf pancake mix) & a generous toss of organic brown sugar crystals & baked at 350' for 15 minutes. I'm inclined to forgo the sugar, but they are right. It's way better that way.
The littles found these eggs hiding on the wood pile, each perfectly clear, & each the size of two sesame seeds. Just laid, it appears, by the way they are gathered like sleepy siblings. I can only imagine the chickens who laid these. These are the treasures you don't look up, the ones filled with way too much magic.
Unless, of course, you are going through the intense, important, truth-hungry nine-year-change. Then, you do look it up. Because knowing is a sweet relief from a nearly-boiling curiosity. Justice for truths obviously ommitted by inconsiderent or possibly less observant mothers. I love this age, this moment with my boy. And, I haven't totally caught up & am still giving imaginative answers to most of his questions, or responding with, "What do you think?" I suppose I am also trying to preserve the dreaminess of his brothers. But really we have never been more on the same page. I have waited for this time with my children. Together we are filled with a wanting hunger that feeds itself - What? Who? When? How on Earth did Earth do that? If D & I can manage the dance between supportive encouragement & required family expectations, then he'll get to keep this innate state of awe. Reason to live more than any career we could dream up for him.
(Some days we squash it right out of him, but I have to believe that life has it's own lessons & we are ultimately not the ones in control of anything around here. We've just gotten really good at saying Sorry & making new promises we work to keep.)
For years we've read E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan, over & over again. It's so full of goodness, sadness, sweetness, rightness. This is the first year he's stopped mid-chapter, aghast, & exclaimed, "Is this a grown-ups' book?" He's noticing the coming of age parts in a whole new way. Always meaningful has been the main character, Sam Beaver, & his grounded confidence in his relationship to the natural world. Without effort he is respectful to his surroundings, he finds answers & befriends animals without ever being the invasive sort that so disturbs my boy. A model for a young naturalist.
We recently devoured The Indian in the Cupboard as a family. Such a magical story, with plenty of blatant cliches to inspire other conversations. What I loved & saw him take in at a deep level of understanding was the maturity & consciousness required to fully care for another living being, let alone a 3-inch Iriquois man, a crying cowboy & their two horses. As a mom I appreciated the acknowledgement, but both of our bigger boys appreciated their own understanding of the seriousness, importance & privilege of the whole situation.
So now we've moved into a fabulous, fabulous story, 2 Little Savages, with it's outdated English & foreign early 20th-century American values. It's about two young boys who live in a teepee for a month, & teach themselves to build shelters, dams, make fire without wood, identify wildlife, forage for food & a number of other things one would not think possible. For sure this must be autobiographical, because we are learning a ridiculous lot. I keep stopping to explain the story in modern-day language, but even my four year-old thinks this is unnecessary. It is because the reader really understands boys, it seems. Curious, committed, & free, some boys are, desiring nothing more than to know & name the wonders of the wild.
I found 3 do-it yourself field guides for kids by the wonderful Jim Arnosky, who Stefani & the Blue Yonder Boys introduced us to. If you are a Lakes Region local, they are $2.98 each at the Country Bookseller in Wolfeboro, NH. Shore Walker, Bug Hunter & Animal Tracker are each "nature notebooks" with about 20 pages of beautiful illustrations & information on how to track & draw one's observation with plenty of blank pages with various tea-tinted backgrounds that look plenty aged & legitimate. (They were .75 cents -$5 on Amazon)
Brunch for the Hardworking Men & Women of Middle Earth
Hand-formed Dew + Red Clover Pollen Cakes
Blue + Huckleberry Jam (swiped from the bubbling sides of hot, sun-ripened fruits)
Crystalline Eggs, Fried (over the mica slices that top steaming granite)
Dried, Salted Minnows
i hope everyone's remembering to eat their breakfasts.:)
if i had one wish for all the world this year, it would be that every person would experience all the joys of breakfast, each & every morning. and that the meals would give them the nourishment, strength, heart & clarity to be fully themselves, for themselves, their loved ones, & their communities.
i'm loving a little plain yogurt to replace the sour cream in the morning. and fuji apples just for crunch. d's the one who taught me to love each & every tortilla with a good browning in butter or earth balance. he's right, i never skip this step now. he's so willing to prepare for his enjoyment, like re-building & washing down a paddleboat each & every year. i just walk outside & feel so happy i'm not into doing another thing. but he's so right about the extra love & attention. everything needs it.
and the great thing about giving care is that it gives energy, while giving gestures & tokens takes energy. there's so much more impact when we put our heart into the little things, i think.
sometimes i see this at work when i'm cooking a sure-thing for the kids, but my head is somewhere else. they just aren't hungry. and then when i'm all excited about a new recipe, when i take the time to put on my favorite apron, or better yet, to put the boys' aprons on them, they'll eat nearly anything. but tomatoes & mushrooms, not so much right now. it's a grownup breakfast, i hear.
My favorite breakfast right now- Pretty. So very pretty. Boy & D-picked green tomatoes browned over nutty anchovies & a bit of olive oil. D suggests a bit of masa sprinkled over them to help crisp up a tad. Good call on his part. Then the heat gets turned up, just so, & fresh organic eggs sizzle over the lot of it. I love how the heat mellows the tartness of the green & the brine of the anchovies so they season the eggs perfectly. A bit of rice with a pat of butter & dill on the side...I'm sorry. I just can't talk right now.
Maya has consulted A-list celebrities, Fortune 500 CEO's, supermodels & world-renowned global activists in bringing values-based creativity & purpose-driven clarity to their expressions. Her sexy edible designs (nori slips + wonton origami aprons!) have been featured at Fred Segal, on Oprah's Oxygen Network, & Pajama Party. A life-long unschooler, Maya has helped raise millions for small companies & non-profits, danced both hip-hop & hula professionally, and co-owned businesses in radio, medical records, cosmetic surgery, exotic cars, & film. She lives with her best friend & their three home-birthed, home-schooled boys, True, Free & Real.